UW Organic Field Day August 30 at Arlington

CALS researchers will host an Organic Field Day on Tuesday, August 30 from 1–3:30p.m. at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station.

The program will focus on using a no-till cover crop “killed mulch” system for managing weeds. Researchers invite organic producers to stick around for an hour after the tours to offer ideas about research, extension, and education needs that could be addressed by UW scientists.

Field tours will offer a look at several no-till experiments that employ the roller-crimper designed by the Rodale Institute. Under this system, producers plant a cover crop after harvest in the fall—generally winter rye for soybeans or hairy vetch for corn—then kill it in May using the heavy roller, leaving a thick mulch through which the cash crop is planted. The heavy layer of vegetation prevents weed seeds from germinating, thus eliminating the need for weed management throughout the growing season.

“The system can be pretty impressive,” says Erin Silva, organic production specialist in the UW-Madison’s Department of Agronomy. “If executed correctly, if offers excellent weed control throughout the season.  Essentially, the only times the farmer will need to be on the field is during crimping and planting, and at harvest.” She discusses this research in a CALS podcast available at

Experiments include treatments where other small grains are being used as a killed mulch, such as barley and triticale.  In addition, field day visitors will also get a chance to look at demonstration plots planted with cover crops including field pea, chickling vetch and forage radish.

Registration for the event will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Public Events building.  Field tours begin at 1 p.m. The Arlington Agricultural Research Station is located at N695 Hopkins Road, Arlington.